This statement was written by French Ubisoft employees, including the STJV sections at Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Montpellier and Ubisoft Paris, and adresses the situations we face in our day-to-day lives. While our conclusions may not apply to everyone within the company (due to legal differences between countries, for example), we believe that the principles described here remain valid everywhere and would be happy to get in touch with workers leading similar struggles outside of France.
NB: Throughout this article, we’ll refer to « CSEs ». A CSE (Comité Social Économique, aka Economic and Social Committee) is a workers council that’s mandatory by French law in any company over 11 employees. Its members are elected by the company’s workers, and they are protected from unjustified firing by their employer. A CSE is tasked with protecting the company’s workers by advising them on their rights, giving feedback to the company’s management on the problems they observe and making sure that the company respects the law.
A little over a year ago, Ubisoft faced an unprecedented wave of testimonies about numerous cases of harassment and aggressions taking place within the group. These reports implicated many people, including some high up in the group’s hierarchy, and revealed a corporate structure that felt no remorse ignoring the many alerts issued about its members, and drove victims to resign.
Our analysis of the situation has not changed since then. More than ever, it is necessary that workers (through their representatives, unions or other local structures) are fully involved in the decision-making processes to address these issues. As such, the members of our sections within Ubisoft who are also members of the CSEs, and in particular our section representatives, have worked hard to ensure that this is the case.
This exhausting work (see the timeline at the end of this article), engaging with a management structure that used any trick at its disposal to buy time, is now blocked by a brutal and completely out-of-touch response from the group’s management, which outright refuses our demands. Once again, they cannot in any way claim to be wiping the slate clean by replacing only one or two well-known « figureheads » in order to conjure up a cleaner image.
By refusing to include employees in the feedback and decision-making process on harassment, Ubisoft management shows that it never had any intention to do more than communicate to « save face ».
Another recent element illustrates this: the introduction of a sixth evaluation attribute (in addition to the five existing ones). This sixth attribute, « Act as a role model », would apply to everyone working at Ubisoft, and would not only impact their remuneration like the rest of the evaluation (see link below), but it would also be used as a multiplier for the production bonus in case of a game release. There are huge problems with this attribute, as it is given overwhelming importance, while its definition is extremely vague: « showing empathy », « being inclusive », « having a constructive approach »…
Ubisoft’s evaluation system is already deeply flawed and unfair, as we pointed out last June. This system is a factor of psycho-social risks, and adding a device that is highly likely to increase these risk factors rather than fundamentally reforming the evaluation and remuneration systems in place is simply irresponsible.
This addition is purely about public image: it will allow management to boast that it is fighting against harassment via a salary impact, while completely ignoring the fact that it is a tool that only intervenes after the fact (since it is used at the time of the evaluation), and that it is riddled with critical flaws: the predominant role of the manager in a situation where problems often come from these hierarchical superiors, possible discrimination against people who do not « fit in », etc. Therefore, this attribute could effectively become another harassment and discrimination tool available to the group’s management, rather than one used to fight against it.
This was not lost on our members from marginalised groups who immediately saw how these measures would exacerbate rather than reduce the discrimination they face:
- There is a real risk that their marginalisation will be highlighted in the evaluations: in the event of a positive evaluation, the person will be considered « privileged » by nature, reinforcing potential accusations of favouritism, or of being a « token ».
- A person who defends themselves against inappropriate remarks or misbehaviour may be evaluated negatively for their « non-constructive » approach or « difficulty in integrating with the team » even more than at present.
- This attribute does not help to reveal or regulate harassment problems within teams: it can instead be an additional means of repression, and in all likelihood a harasser will not be « punished » at the evaluation if they have not already been subjected to disciplinary actions.
- It should also be remembered that this attribute does not help to improve the evaluation process, since this process is dependent on the budget allocated for salary increases (see our previous article above).
- It should also be remembered that marginalised people are already most often penalised with lower salaries. They are therefore particularly likely to be harmed if their manager abuses this sixth attribute.
- People with neuroatypical empathic functioning could be blamed and punished in the name of this supposedly inclusive attribute.
The conclusion of this frightening, yet non-exhaustive, list is that this sixth attribute would rather encourage the people it is supposed to protect to remain silent so as not to be discriminated against further – or worse, that it encourages dangerous people to amplify their violence towards victims to silence them.
The STJV, on behalf of its members working in the Ubisoft group, is therefore demanding that the sixth attribute draft proposition be withdrawn altogether, as well as the integration of workers at all levels of the harassment reporting process, and not just downstream, after management has been able to water down or even cover up certain cases.